Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa, surrounded by Guinea, Liberia and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a place with stunning beaches, tropical weather and friendly faces. However, Sierra Leone has had it's share of difficulty, struggling through a civil war between 1991-2001. Finally, by January 2002 the war was declared over, however, as a result much of the country's infrastructure was damaged, including its health services. Today Sierra Leone still ranks as one of the countries with the lowest human development index according to the UN. It is ranked as the 180th out of 182 countries listed.
In Sierra Leone health statistics are among the worst in the world. According to the WHO Statistics in 2010 life expectancy at birth is 49 years. Both the infant (123 per 1000 live births) and child mortality rates (194 per 1000 live births) are shockingly high. The child mortality rate indicates that 1 in 5 children do not reach the age of 5. Most of these children dying of preventable and treatable diseases. Granted, the statistics have improved since 2006 when 1 in 4 children did not reach the age of 5, but this country still has a long way to go. To give you an idea, the child mortality in other countries is as follows: Haiti: 1 in 14, the USA: 1 in 125, the Netherlands: 1 in 200 and Iceland: 1 in 333. Maternal mortality rates are also amongst the highest in the world with 1 in 8 women dying in pregnancy, compared to 1 in 47,600 in Ireland.
All this to say that Sierra Leone still has a long way to go. Fortunately the presidential elections in 2007 were held peacefully and the government seems to be doing its best to tackle issues such as corruption, drug trafficking, and dire health care. Hopefully the free healthcare initiative launched on April 27, 2010 stating that healthcare is free for children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers, will lead to a positive change in the health of Sierra Leone.